Brain-Eating Amoeba- A potential threat to mankind?

Sadi Ahmed

Brain-eating amoeba has been drastically affecting people all over the world, especially in America. Every year, people die from it. It usually affects healthy, young people.

What is brain-eating Amoeba?

Generally, Amoebas are single celled organisms. Brain eating Amoeba which is known as “Naeglaria fowleri” was discovered in 1965. It was first discovered in Australia but it evolved in USA later on. 

Though there are several species of Naegleria but only fowleri species and their subtypes which are equally infectious are believed to cause human disease. N. fowleri reproduces by cell division like other Amoebas. With favorable environment, it becomes trophozoites which is a feeding form of Amoeba. When conditions are not suitable it becomes inactive cysts.

Where are these Amoebas found? 

  • Warm lakes, ponds. 
  • Mud puddles 
  • Warm, slow flowing rivers 
  • Abandoned swimming pool 
  • Geothermal water sources 
  • Thermally polluted water 
  • Aquariums Soil 
  • Indoor dust 

N. fowleri do not survive in salt water and it can’t survive in well-managed swimming pool either. Most of the infections have been in Florida and Texas because most cases of N. fowleri disease occur in southern or southeastern states.

How do people get infected?

As per CDC (Centers for disease control and prevention), bacteria are the food of N. fowleri. However, brain becomes a food source of it when it manages to get into the humans. As nose is the only pathway of N. fowleri, infection occurs from diving, water skiing and performing any kind of water sports. Infections also have occurred in people who cleaned their nostrils with neti pots filled with untreated water. However, it’s not contagious.

How does it get into the brain?

N. fowleri Amoebas are attracted to the chemicals that nerve cells use to contact with one another. The moment the Amoeba enter into the nose, it immediately travels through the olfactory nerve into the frontal lobe of the brain.


  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Vomiting 
  • Appetite loss
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Vision problem
  • No sense of taste

Usually, symptoms appear 15 days after the Amoeba enter into the nose. Within three to seven days of showing symptoms, death occurs. People barely survive after infected with N. fowleri.


There is no treatment for this disease. In fact, there is no such test to detect the disease. Though there are some drugs available that kill N. fowleri but only in test tube. But patients don’t survive even after treated with these drugs.


Swimming underwater, in old ponds, diving, water skiing should be avoided. Nose clip should be used while swimming, boating or playing in warm waters. Sterile or distilled water must be used while cleansing the nostrils.

Sadi Ahmed

Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering Discipline

Khulna University



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